20 Culinary Questions with Lee Schrager, Founder of the Food Network South Beach + New York City Wine & Food Festivals

Lee_Schrager_2 copy[1] copyLee Brian Schrager is one of the nation’s preeminent event planners and media relations experts, serving as the vice president of corporate communications & National Events at Southern Wine & Spirits of America, Inc. Known for his creation of both the Food Network South Beach and New York City Wine & Food Festivals, Schrager is the author of The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook and the recently released Fried & True: More than 50 Recipes for America’s Best Fried Chicken and Sides. He studied at the Culinary Institute of America and at the School of Hospitality Management at Florida International University. His greatest culinary indulgence is that he travels for food. You can follow him on his culinary excursions on Twitter at @Lee_Schrager.

1. What are some of the best qualities of the Miami dining scene? Its diversity – from neighborhood joints to white-tablecloth fine dining, there’s a spot to fit any taste. There are strong cultural influences on Miami’s dining scene as well; mostly Latin due to our location, but you can find just about any type of food here.

2. Any restaurants at which you’re something of a regular? There are several! Sugarcane, Mandolin, Ni. Do. Caffé, MC Kitchen, Yardbird, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink – the list keeps growing.

3. If I come to Miami, where must I dine? That depends on how long you’re here and how many places I can give you – there are so many truly satisfying options now. Miami’s culinary scene has grown exponentially and continues to do so.

4. Last best restaurants you dined at? I had great meals recently at both Traymore and Touché.

5. Restaurants you’d most like to try but have yet to — anywhere? If in Miami, I’m looking forward to getting to Drunken Dragon and Porfirio’s.

6. Favorite cities for dining outside your own? This is also a long list – I was recently in Tuscany, which I love, and also experienced the culinary scene in Israel, which I was amazed by.  I’m also a fan of the street food scene wherever I travel.

7. Destination dining cities you’d love to visit? Berlin and Chile.

8. What’s your overall favorite type of cuisine? I’m a fan of Italian cuisine, but it all depends on what I’m in the mood for. I love fresh, simple, ingredient-driven food.

9. Small shared plates, tasting menu or app/entrée dessert? Depends on the group of people I’m dining with – it’s important to know your party when evaluating this choice. I tend to lean toward shared plates though, in an effort to try as many of the dishes offered as possible.

10. Dish you can’t resist ordering when you see it on a menu? Roast chicken and/or fried chicken – it calls my name.

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The Bold Italic + OpenTable: Hacking the Dining Experience

bold italicIn a city where you can find both start-ups and trendy restaurants on the same block, the two are invariably bound to collide. On Monday, September 22, OpenTable and The Bold Italic joined forces to bring together a panel of influencers to discuss two of the more powerful currents running through San Francisco: food and technology, and how they collectively translate to the hospitality and dining industry.

The panel was moderated by Meesha Halm, senior editor and writer at Zagat. A seasoned journalist and multimedia leader with extensive experience covering local and national dining trends, she understands what diners are truly looking for in a restaurant — and in their apps.

Our own Scott Jampol, VP of marketing at OpenTable, addressed the topic of whether technology helps or hinders the hospitality experience: “We [OpenTable] aim to seek out pain points from both [the diner and restaurant] sides of the equation and provide an elegant solution. This is where technology can improve efficiency of dining without sacrificing hospitality.”

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Fit for Foodies Mutual Admiration Society

Yesterday, we announced the 2014 #DinersChoice Award winners for Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America to much excitement. From ABC News and NBC to Business Insider and Foobooz — and more, news of the honors spread fast, but nowhere more so than on Twitter. We loved watching winning restaurants and others share the love for fellow award winners, including Extra Virgin and Piccolo. Did your favorite fit for foodies restaurant make the list? Let us know on Twitter!

 

OpenTable Reviews Reveal #DinersChoice Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America — with Slideshow

In celebration of our country’s progressive food and dining culture, we are pleased to honor the 2014 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Fit for Foodies Restaurants in America. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Newer eateries rule the list, with the majority of winners opening in the last three years. More than 20 were founded in 2012 alone, while 15 launched in 2013, and six debuted as recently as 2014. Also, 14 of the honorees have women as executive chefs. American fare is overwhelmingly popular, but French and Italian restaurants are common among the honorees.  Other popular cuisines include Japanese, Spanish, Middle Eastern, modern European, tapas/small plates, and vegetarian.

Showcasing restaurants with unique menus, easygoing ambience, and passionate chefs who have a “source local, cook global” approach, the complete list includes award winners in 29 states, including Aviary in Portland, Odd Duck in Austin, and Vedge in Philadelphia. Restaurants in Portland and Philadelphia collectively account for almost 25 percent of the list. California has the greatest number of winners with 14, followed closely by Oregon and Pennsylvania with 13 each. New York has eight honorees, while Colorado, Massachusetts, and Washington all have five, and Illinois has four. Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas each have three winning restaurants. Arizona, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, and Virginia, respectively, have two award winners. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, and Wisconsin are also represented.

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